1957 CHRONICLER- JULIAN COBBINAH


Yesterday dated 10th of October 2018 the past President of NUGS gave a notice on his facebook page to walk the public through the phases of the student movement of Ghana dubbed (1957 Chronicler).

This is a Pen down literature from JULIAN COBBINAH (President,NUGS-2016)

“Two years ago, today, exactly, on the 10th of October 2016, I was tasked with the heavy burden to navigate the path of the students’ Union, the National Union of Ghana Students, NUGS, as its National President, through its most turbulent times post 1992 Republican Constitution.

Campaigns could be anything, especially when the truth of policy propositions get buried under an avalanche of falsehood interlaced with incendiary sectarianism : such was the tough elections I fought purposed to deliver a refreshing uprising for the National union of Ghana Students.

As I begin to chronicle the student movement in Ghana, in the amazing ‘1957 Chronicler’, I would from tomorrow walk the public through the events that has bedevilled the forthright character of a movement that delivered our first President, Nkrumah, and produced notable giants in history like the Late Kofi Annan ( L/Nugs Vice-Prez, KNUST )

We would explore how the attack onTV3’s Journalists, myself and the then Chief Justice of the NUGS, Master Amoah, by a vigilante group ( now known to be invisible forces ) was a precursor to the open assault on a high court judge sitting competently in court, and the recent attack on an Mp and Minister of state, Hon. Akoto Osei.”

Lets get talking and chronicling from tomorrow.

J.M Yaw Cobbinah.
10th Oct 2018.
Lakeside Estate, Accra,

 

1957 Chronicler

Author : Julian Yaw M Cobbinah

Cc. Benjamin Alpha
Benyamin MaduguAvornyotse

On the 30th of May, 2018, our nation was stunned by the repetition of the bravery that had kept tongues lashing at the actors on state corridors under the Prof K.A Busia short-lived regime.

Reginald Sekyi-Brown had a parcel of anger inked respectfully on a paper, asking the Government of Ghana to open the University Ghana Medical Center for the public good.

This was a student activist, this time, in 2018, under President Nana Addo, of the same UP stock, laying the wrath and anger of the citizenry in a decent display of modern protest in our polity.

Under the Busia regime, Prof Ebo hutchfil, then Chief Vandal and teaching- Assistant at the University of Ghana, walked straight to the seat of the Prime Minister, seized it, and warmed comfortably into the chair to the amazement and bewilderment of the security services who were waiting for the Prime Minister to arrive at a public function.

Whereas Ebo Hutchfill was drumming home the urgent need to scrap the cost-shifting policy reform in education by the Busia Regime, Reginald Sekyi- Brown was protesting the deceit characterising the continuous non-opening of a health facility.

The interesting development however was how the political milieu, a situation of a government crafted after a coup, known, at least perceptually, for its friendliness to dissent would treat Ebo hutchfil’s protest as an insurgency. It was the government against the shrewd-will of students.

This incident was instrumental in inspiring student riots and protests post Nkrumah’s era, one of which saw the death of Abass, a student of the University of ghana, in whose memory the round-about at the Legon’s main entrance is erected.

Quite intriguingly, and especially because Mrs Konadu Rawlings had introduced a modern phenomenon of the soft power role of the first lady in a Government, Reginald targetted his publicity stunt at Madam Mrs Rebeccah Akufo-Addo, first Lady of Ghana. The reginald-doctrine raised for public policy academics, the very important question of the scope and power of the spouse of the elected President of Ghana. This question remains begging in the books of public policy academics especially as regards the source of funding voted by the government to run the offices of first and second ladies.

In 1965, amidst loud speeches, when students gathered at the forecourt of Commonwealth Hall, little could their imaginative minds contemplate that the evolution of the Students Resistance Committees (SRC) into a formal structure under the banner headline of the National Union of Ghanaian Students ( NUGS) would spring up to be the machinery to fight the abuse of human rights under the governance of one of its own, Kofi Ngoloma, later to be know in life as Kwame Nkrumah by accident of registration.

Nkrumah was a master craft coined by his experiences as a student activist culminating as the Secretary of the dreaded West African Students Union, WASU.

It was more of his will and passion that got Gorge Padmore to envelope the famous words, “this boy carrying this note is not so intelligent but he is determined to throw the white Man out of the colonies. Give him all the support he needs”.

It is this note that Nrkumah himself carried in an envelope, not knowing its content, and asked by Padmore to deliver to W.E.B Dubois, that put his activism to the lime light. This was a student activist well vexed in the trade of political mobilization who led our country into its last and most important chapters of independence, who was closing down the space for dissent and building a monolithic culture rather paradoxically, on University campuses.

In 1965, advised by the excesses of Nkrumah’s contentions with the academia, the students from the University of Ghana, Univeristy of Cape-Coast and Kumasi’s University of Science and Technology, gathered to develop the Students Resistance Committees, SRC, which had a major mandate to protect the academic freedom of the Universities into a concrete structure of nation-wide coordination.

First, the movement had in mind a global picture of Ghanaians schooling in other countries who could not come under the umbrella of the resistance committees and secondly a more appealing name which had its outlook on both advocacy at the table and mass protest. After its formation under the feet of Father Bachus, the greek god of commonwealth Hall, the National Union of Ghanaian Students became the most credible voice against the government.

When NUGS argued for the representation of the students on university management boards, it took inspiration from the successes of its Students Resistance Committees, SRC, units and created the phrase, Students Representative Council, SRC, as the name recognition of the voices of students that would later be introduced into statutes.

When John Mustapha put an application before the Supreme Court to interpret the University of Ghana’s establishing Act and other relevant law to mean the University is amenable to the discretionary executive will of the Government, it was more of an invitation to the court to settle the the nineteen-sixties controversy between Nkrumah’s allies and University Professors.

This time, John Mustapha, who was the chief confidant of the SRC President, had volunteered to frustrate the Univeristy by using the claw-powers of the Georgina Woode’s Supreme Court to end Legon’s automated barrier policy that compelled road users to pay hefty sums in the name of certification to ply legon roads. It revealed phenomenally the transition of the Ghanaian students political landscape into modern battlefields. We had moved from the streets to the Courts. This time an SRC President was fighting the University in a proxy war in court while sitting at table with the Professors in Management.

When the men of the national security coordinator, Gbeblo Lartey, arrived one fateful dawn to demolish the University’s Security post under construction, It was further testament of the power play between state actors and University administrators. This time, it was the State, Student activists and students against University Management.

In a quiet jubilant mood, the University re-enacted boldly the name of the Okponglo road leading into its premises as the ‘Academic Freedom’ road after the apex court granted its judgement against john Musah.

History recalls Cicero for the elegance with which he discharged his public speaking obligations in the public square. It is such power he wielded to sway emotions, construct clarity for a listener, blind judgements and forge perspectives that put his name in the history books. Yet ! No man charmed me at first impression than the controversial Herbert Mensah. Herbert like his friend, former President Jerry Rawlings, are men of many friends as well as adversaries.

I had beseeched the 31st December women’s movement office at Ridge in Accra, to mobilize funds to build a campaign program for Philemon Laar’s bid to be the KNUST’s SRC President. I paraded myself in innocent optimism, flanked by Jude Sekley, having convinced Mr. Laar that ethnic bigotry would submit to tact and will.

In the course of the conversation, walked in, the madam : Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings. She had a poised demeanour and innocent to the uninitiated. I later gathereed she was in the middle of a move to unseat the incumbent John Mills in what was developing to be a heated wrangling within the folder of the National Democratic Congress.

Her first question was on my opinion on John Mills. I had to think on my feet.

Then we had to bake a plan as I looked straight into Jude’s eyes

To be continued.

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